Tell me about climbing the Matterhorn.....

1:14 p.m. on December 7, 2001 (EST)
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What is the most popular route? What is the easiest route? What's the best time of year to climb? Generally, how crowded of a climb is it? Anyone who has done it (Bill S, Brian in SLC, etc.), please provide as much information as you can, based upon your personal experience(s) with climbing the mountain...................thank you for all who respond!

1:28 p.m. on December 7, 2001 (EST)
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Berg hell...

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What is the most popular route?

Hornli ("o" has one of them umlauts over it) Ridge.

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What is the easiest route?

See above.

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What's the best time of year to climb?

Dry summer into dry Fall.

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Generally, how crowded of a climb is it?

Under good conditions and good weather, very very crowded.

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Anyone who has done it (Bill S) please provide as much information as you can, based upon your personal experience(s) with climbing the mountain...................thank you for all who respond!

As much as I can? Well, for starters, don't drive your rental car to Zermatt from Tasch (another umlaut over the "a"). Swiss police don't warm up to American humor for a spell, no matter how much you try or how much knowledge you may claim to have of their Sig 226. Park the car at Tasch, ride the train up to Zermat. Take the tram to the two hour approach to the hut. Spend a bunch and stay to the left, a little and stay to the right. Bring soup mix and tea as the hot water in the hut is free. Scout the start before the climb. Get an early start. Solo almost everything except maybe the first 60 feet and the slab stuff (Mosley?) below the rescue hut (which you aren't supposed to stay in unless its an emergency). Be fast. In the dark, its kinda easy to get off route. Follow the well travelled trail (scuff marks on the rocks) and quickie belay curly ques (fixed "spikes").

We got a late start (don't believe the "no getting up prior to 5am" signs in the hut), got off route, was late in the season (late Sept), too much snow and ice, slow goin', boots, crampons, ice tools, filled body bags, etc. We were too slow. Bailed just below the upper shoulder prior to the fixed lines. Made it down right before dark. Hindsite, should maybe gone for it...

Bill S'll have to take it from here...

Brian in SLC
(need to go back and finish someday...Mt Blanc too...oh well....)

1:54 p.m. on December 7, 2001 (EST)
(Guest)

Re: Berg hell...

Brian:

Thanks for the info! Can you tell me more about the climb specifically...................what grade(s)/ratings, etc. How much loose scree scramble, how much 4th class, how much 5th class (what ratings based off of Yosemite decimal system), where's the crux of the climb and how technical, etc.? I'm trying to assess the technical nature of the climb (Hornli Ridge then) compared to my capabilities..........

 

Quote:

Quote:

What is the most popular route?

Hornli ("o" has one of them umlauts over it) Ridge.

Quote:

What is the easiest route?

See above.

Quote:

What's the best time of year to climb?

Dry summer into dry Fall.

Quote:

Generally, how crowded of a climb is it?

Under good conditions and good weather, very very crowded.

Quote:

Anyone who has done it (Bill S) please provide as much information as you can, based upon your personal experience(s) with climbing the mountain...................thank you for all who respond!

As much as I can? Well, for starters, don't drive your rental car to Zermatt from Tasch (another umlaut over the "a"). Swiss police don't warm up to American humor for a spell, no matter how much you try or how much knowledge you may claim to have of their Sig 226. Park the car at Tasch, ride the train up to Zermat. Take the tram to the two hour approach to the hut. Spend a bunch and stay to the left, a little and stay to the right. Bring soup mix and tea as the hot water in the hut is free. Scout the start before the climb. Get an early start. Solo almost everything except maybe the first 60 feet and the slab stuff (Mosley?) below the rescue hut (which you aren't supposed to stay in unless its an emergency). Be fast. In the dark, its kinda easy to get off route. Follow the well travelled trail (scuff marks on the rocks) and quickie belay curly ques (fixed "spikes").

We got a late start (don't believe the "no getting up prior to 5am" signs in the hut), got off route, was late in the season (late Sept), too much snow and ice, slow goin', boots, crampons, ice tools, filled body bags, etc. We were too slow. Bailed just below the upper shoulder prior to the fixed lines. Made it down right before dark. Hindsite, should maybe gone for it...

Bill S'll have to take it from here...

Brian in SLC
(need to go back and finish someday...Mt Blanc too...oh well....)

2:45 p.m. on December 7, 2001 (EST)
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Guestimation...

Quote:

Brian:

Thanks for the info! Can you tell me more about the climb specifically...................what grade(s)/ratings, etc. How much loose scree scramble

Surprisingly solid, but, some loose stuff in the lower angle areas.

>>how much 4th class

A bunch. 3rd or 4th. You can simul climb quickly by takin' advantage of the running belay spikes. Goes fast but there is a bunch of vertical.

>>how much 5th class (what ratings based off of Yosemite decimal system), where's the crux of the climb and how technical, etc.?

I think Bill S will call it 5.5 at the Mosley Slab. Probably more like 5.6. I didn't have any rock pro but used some knotted slings in cracks in a spot or two no problemo. Seemed like a short crux. Be easier in rock shoes than plastic boots...

For me, the very first pitch was the hardest. Was dark, we didn't scout, and felt like 5.8ish. But...gettin' oriented in the daylight would be a big help.

>>I'm trying to assess the technical nature of the climb (Hornli Ridge then) compared to my capabilities..........

Most friends who have done it in the summer have solo'd it in their runnin' shoes or loose rock shoes. In good conditions, I think it goes quickly. Mostly steep, exposed scrambling. With the vertical gain, you just can't afford to pitch it out. We belayed the first pitch and Mosely Slab pitch is all. Altitude can be a factor too since its 14k+.

Beauty place. I'd go again, but, probably plan more time for the Durfourspitze (sp?), Monte Rosa. Er something. Other valleys nearby have some classic climbing too. Bunch of guidebooks available on it.

The Alpine 4000m Peaks by the Classic Routes : A Guide for Mountaineers.

Brian in SLC

1:12 p.m. on December 10, 2001 (EST)
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1:47 p.m. on December 10, 2001 (EST)
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Thanks for the link, Diligence..........


Quote:

An account.....
http://peakbagger.tripod.com/Climbs/Matterhorn/matterhorn.htm

2:26 a.m. on December 12, 2001 (EST)
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5:50 p.m. on December 12, 2001 (EST)
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Rating

As I posted over on MtnCommunity, I don't think any of the Hornli is more than 4th class, especially since the hard parts all have fixed ropes. The Lower Mosley certainly wasn't any 5.5 or 5.6. I have photos I took in that area while waiting for the crowds, and I know we didn't belay, just simulclimbed. We did put on ropes just before the lower slab, and unroped on the way down after we got off the slab. But no belay there. Only place we did anything resembling a belay was on the Upper Mosley, where we passed the rope through the curlicues as a running belay while simulclimbing, and that was only because they were there. I would guess that if the fixed lines weren't there, the upper Mosley would be 5.4 or 5.5. And no, I'm not trying to give my usual OGBO sandbag rating. Too many tyros will be trying to climb that route and I don't want to underrate it. One thing that makes the Hornli more challenging is that, since it is a very long day, you are climbing fast and there is no time to screw around trying to work out the moves. If you pause to consider a move, one of the professional guides will literally climb right over you (had that happen on the Lower Mosley, and he slipped - I caught him, but just got a glare and no "thanks" or "danke").

I would compare the crowds to the lines at Disneyland or similar amusement parks for the more popular rides - lots of people in line and a fair amount of jostling. It's worth it only for the truly spectacular views and to be able to say you did it. Anytime I mention I have been climbing for a few decades, non-climbers first ask if I have done the Matterhorn, and when I say yes, they ask if I have done Everest (answer - I have absolutely zero interest in Everest since it became a Disneyland ride and since a couple good friends and colleagues died there, and not in climbing accidents, either). Then again, I have climbed 3 different Matterhorns - the one in Switzerland, the one on the NE boundary of Yosemite, and the one in Mickey's old kingdom (many years ago, a special deal in which a couple dozen "real climbers" were invited to do the ladder, er, official route that is apparently still being used by Disney employees in costume - probably never again possible due to OSHA rules).

6:06 p.m. on December 12, 2001 (EST)
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gotta disagree ..

Quote:

>>how much 5th class (what ratings based off of Yosemite decimal system), where's the crux of the climb and how technical, etc.?

I think Bill S will call it 5.5 at the Mosley Slab. Probably more like 5.6. I didn't have any rock pro but used some knotted slings in cracks in a spot or two no problemo. Seemed like a short crux. Be easier in rock shoes than plastic boots...

If the fixed ropes weren't there the Upper Mosley might be 5.4. But the Lower Mosley wasn't any more than 4th. I looked back at my photos (had plenty of time for photos at the Lower Slab, thanks to the crowds), and also recall that we simulclimbed through the area pretty quickly when our turn in line came. We roped up at the Lower Mosley and unroped there on the way down.

I used leather mountaineering boots for the climb. I wouldn't use rock shoes because of the snow that seems to be present always at the shoulder, and plastics are way overkill. Stopping to change footwear when changing in and out of crampons will just allow the crowds to get ahead of you. Best to use a pair of good leather mountaineering boots and crampons to match (fit them ahead of time, of course).

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For me, the very first pitch was the hardest. Was dark, we didn't scout, and felt like 5.8ish. But...gettin' oriented in the daylight would be a big help.

As Brian and I have discussed before, Brian must have been way off route. If you skirt around to the left (basically east) of the cliff face when leaving the hotel, there is a rough trail that continues up to the Lower Mosley Slab, definitely hands in the pocket. I haven't been back to look since Bri told me he encountered 5.8 stuff, but from what I remember, he must have gone more or less straight up the cliff, farther to the right. I recall seeing people going up there and wondered what route they were on, like maybe headed for the North Face. But definitely, scout out the first quarter or third of the route a day or two before so you know where to go in the dark on your actual climb.

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... Altitude can be a factor too since its 14k+.

Absolutely! Do several days of acclimatization hikes and maybe a couple of easier peaks. You might consider camping up at Schwarzsee or one of the areas at higher altitude (gotta wonder, though, about the comments over on MtnCommunity about camping restrictions that seem to have come in since I was last there).

6:46 p.m. on December 12, 2001 (EST)
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Gentlemen:

Thank you all very much for the info you have provided thus far, regarding climbing on the Matterhorn............it is greatly appreciated! I will probably have more questions, in general, and specific questions concerning camping very soon, but first I need to analyze all of this data and do some more studying.......................will probably be in touch real soon.............

1:12 a.m. on December 13, 2001 (EST)
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Re: Rating

Quote:

Then again, I have climbed 3 different Matterhorns - the one in Switzerland, the one on the NE boundary of Yosemite, and the one in Mickey's old kingdom (many years ago, a special deal in which a couple dozen "real climbers" were invited to do the ladder, er, official route that is apparently still being used by Disney employees in costume - probably never again possible due to OSHA rules).

And I would wager a six pack the the one in the Sierra's was the best of the bunch!

Cheers and keep that beard growing!
Christian :?)

4:51 p.m. on December 13, 2001 (EST)
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Bill S, please tell me a little more.....

about your experiences on Matterhorn Peak (Yosemite). What route did you climb? How was it? Technical difficulties involved? Other possible routes? Your general impressions of the overall experience? I have heard quite a bit about this peak as well; may have to look into making it down there someday...............

12:23 p.m. on December 14, 2001 (EST)
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Ok, ok...call it "AD-"!

Quote:

If the fixed ropes weren't there the Upper Mosley might be 5.4. But the Lower Mosley wasn't any more than 4th. I looked back at my photos (had plenty of time for photos at the Lower Slab, thanks to the crowds), and also recall that we simulclimbed through the area pretty quickly when our turn in line came. We roped up at the Lower Mosley and unroped there on the way down.

After a quick web search, seems that the climb is rated anywhere from a UIAA III- to IV which can equate anywhere from a 5.3 to a 5.6. Probably felt harder to me 'cause I'm weak, had plastic boots on, was covered in ice and snow and was tryin' to keep moving...

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Quote:

For me, the very first pitch was the hardest. Was dark, we didn't scout, and felt like 5.8ish. But...gettin' oriented in the daylight would be a big help.

As Brian and I have discussed before, Brian must have been way off route. If you skirt around to the left (basically east) of the cliff face when leaving the hotel, there is a rough trail that continues up to the Lower Mosley Slab, definitely hands in the pocket. I haven't been back to look since Bri told me he encountered 5.8 stuff, but from what I remember, he must have gone more or less straight up the cliff, farther to the right. I recall seeing people going up there and wondered what route they were on, like maybe headed for the North Face. But definitely, scout out the first quarter or third of the route a day or two before so you know where to go in the dark on your actual climb.

Well...I don't think we were "way" off route, coulda been more like a 100 feet. Headed for the north face indeed...haaarrrrumph. But, yeah, we were probably to the right of the standard path. Still right behind the huts, but up thru the cliff face thru a notch. Oh well...shoulda scouted...

More important than the hardest individual move technically, would be the ability to cover easy 4th class safely and quickly.

Personally, I'd want to be able to feel comfy running it out on 5.5 or 5.6 terrain, but that's just me. Not sure, if I was movin' fast, that I'd be able to distinguish between 5.4 or 5.5 or 5.6 anyhow...!

Some other references:

http://ari.rdx.net/abc/mountains/westernalps.htm#hornligrat

Fun fun fun...

Brian in SLC

2:03 p.m. on December 14, 2001 (EST)
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Matterhorn Peak

Quote:

about your experiences on Matterhorn Peak (Yosemite). What route did you climb?

*** man, that was decades ago! I don't remember, just something from the east side, whatever was in the ancient Hervey Voge Climber's Guide to the High Sierra. (dragging out the water-stained volume, taking care not to further damage the broken binding), must have been the one going over the glacier and up to the arete between Dragtooth and Matterhorn. Main thing I remember is that we wanted a "real climb" and not a scramble. Most of the other routes were class 2 and 3 at the time, and the north arete was the only 5th class route. We came down a scramble route on the east side, probably the SE face, to the trail that headed back toward where the group was camped. This was an Angeles RCS climb back in the '60s. We did a couple other routes that weekend in the Sawtooth Ridge area on the Teeth.

>How was it? Technical difficulties involved?

**** Don't really remember 30++ years later. It was pretty much just another Sierra climb (fun, spectacular views, great companions), with no notable mind-searing incidents (like we had on Humphreys or in the Minarets, for example). No real technical difficulties that I can recall, just a regular Sierra 5th class route. Keep in mind though, that this is one of the most beautiful parts of the Sierra. You climb the area more for the aesthetics than the route challenges. I suppose if I looked in the recent guidebooks I would find that there are 5.12 epic routes, but like most Sierra peaks, the peaks in the Sawtooth area pretty much all have at least one easy scramble route, maybe even a walkup. And there are a number of faces presenting very challenging routes. The glaciers aren't much, more like a snowfield providing a convenient approach. No crevasses except a bergschrund or two.

>Other possible routes? Your general impressions of the overall experience? I have heard quite a bit about this peak as well; may have to look into making it down there someday...............

Main thing is what I said about this being a really beautiful part of the Sierra. You do have to pay to get access at Twin Lakes (or hike a really long way). And around the lakes you have to deal with way too many tourists. But as usual, density of people decreases as the square of the distance from the trailhead and cube of the altitude gain. I may have to go back there this summer with lots of camera gear and lots of film.

2:09 p.m. on December 14, 2001 (EST)
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Thanks for the info, Bill! (n/t)

.

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